Headingley: After taking an unbeatable 3-0 lead after the nine-wicket win in the fourth ODI against England, India is likely to give a break to many of their key players in the fifth and final match at Leeds, here on Friday.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar bowled 172.5 overs in the five Tests, picking up 19 wickets and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni did mentioned after the Birmingham win that he had thought of giving the medium-pacer rest after a few Test matches. "In the middle of the Test series, he was slightly overbowled," said Dhoni after the win at Edgbaston. "We bowled him more with the new ball.
If Ishant (Sharma) was fit, maybe we could have given Bhuvi rest in one of the Test matches in the middle of the series. But we couldn't really do that. It was good on him to go through the Test series despite a few niggles." Ishant Sharma's injury pullout after just three Tests put more burden on Bhuvneshwar as Mohammed Shami (5 wickets in 3 Tests) was a huge disappointment as well.
Dhoni was all praise for Bhuvi's performance in English conditions. "He is a fantastic fast bowler because he can swing the ball. And in England, bowlers who can swing the ball are really successful," said Dhoni. "He has bowled the right length. He has exploited the conditions when there was help for him. He pushed the batsmen to play. That is crucial in these conditions."
"A lot of Indian bowlers when they make debut for the country lose their pace after some time. He is one of those who have gained a couple of yards instead. That really helps because in international circuit once you drop down, even if you are a swing bowler, it is very difficult to maintain that effectiveness," the skipper added.
But the Indian think-tank would certainly be in a catch-22 situation at Leeds as dropping a few players might disturb a winning combination and also hinder their 2015 World Cup preparations. So whether Dhoni and company will go for an all out attack to sweep the series with their winning combination or give some new faces a feel of English conditions only time will tell.
Kerala wicketkeeper-batsman Sanju Samson also awaits his turn to showcase his talent while Uttar Pradesh leg-spinner Karn Sharma may just be fancying his chance in the XI as India take field in the final ODI. Medium-pacer Umesh Yadav, who has had a start-and-stop career in his 31 ODIs and 9 Test matches for Team India, is another player waiting in the queue to be part of the Indian XI soon.
But Dhoni, who is known to keep his cards close to his chest, will only keep one and all guessing till the toss at Leeds. Team Director Ravi Shastri, coach Duncan Fletcher and Dhoni still have a day left to strategize for the final ODI and the one-off T20 before looking ahead.